Andrea Illy is awarded the Leonardo Prize for the promotion of Italy’s image around the world

The award recognizes his commitment as a supporter of the stakeholder company and of corporate responsibility in building a better society.

Rome, 24 September 2021 – Today, illycaffè Chairman Andrea Illy, will be awarded the 2019 Leonardo Prize (, which a broad panel of qualified jurors gives out every year to an Italian or foreign personality who contributed significantly to promoting and burnishing Italy’s image abroad.

Illy has always focused his commitment along two key vectors: sustainability as corporate culture and in favor of the coffee and agricultural sectors; and Made in Italy as a symbol of excellence to increase the country’s competitiveness.

Andrea Illy was awarded for his work as an entrepreneur, as a staunch supporter of the stakeholder company and of corporate responsibility in building a better society

A “humanist chemist”, as he is often defined, he led illycaffè’s internationalization while innovating its processes, its culture, and its quest for quality. Today, the illy brand is recognized worldwide for its sustainable quality and its ceaseless support for the world of culture and contemporary art, which it has made available to everyone thanks to the iconic illy Art Collection espresso cups.

An Ambassador of ‘Made in Italy’, during his presidency of the Altagamma Foundation (2013 – 2019) and through his book Italia Felix, Andrea Illy has promoted Italy’s wealth and talents worldwide, highlighting its quest for perfection, the striving for innovation and the creativity inherited thanks to three millennia of beauty and culture.

“I am honored to have received this very important recognition – comments Andrea Illy, President of illycaffè – which is very gratifying and which encourages me even more to cultivate my dream of a society that cares for the well-being of people and for the preservation of the environment. What makes ‘Made in Italy’ goods excellent – which is beautiful, good, and well-made – goes hand-in-hand with building a sustainable business model that can generate value for the present and preserve it for future generations. Through our work at illycaffè I will redouble my efforts to promote Italy’s image around the world”.

Andrea Illy believes that happiness is a prerequisite for any transition towards a more sustainable and regenerative socio-economic model, so much so that in 2019, when illycaffè adopted benefit corporation status, he institutionalized this commitment. Together with the Ernesto Illy Foundation, of which he is one of the founders, and thanks to important public-private partnerships with local and international institutions, it supports numerous projects for the development of coffee community and the creation of sustainable value chains in producing countries. These activities are the concrete implementation of illycaffè’s philosophy and strategy, and indeed, in 2021 it was the first Italian coffee company to obtain B-Corp certification.

A scholar and an expert in climate change with decades of experience, since 2018 Andrea Illy has been developing a model of ‘virtuous agriculture’ that sequesters atmospheric carbon by enriching soils with organic matter, while growing healthful produce.

The awards ceremony for the 2019 Leonardo Prize (which had originally been scheduled for 2020) took place today at Palazzo Barberini in Rome, in the presence of the President of the Republic.

Andrea Illy – Chairman of  illycaffè
Andrea Illy is the Chairman of illycaffè S.p.A., a family company founded in 1933 with the mission of offering the best coffee in the world, of which he was CEO for 22 years.

As an entrepreneur, he is a strong believer in the stakeholder company and in corporate responsibility for building a better society. A “humanist chemist", he is a promoter of culture and art, a field in which illycaffè has always been active.

Outside the company, he served as the president of ASIC (the only international association dedicated to the science of coffee) from 1999 to 2014; he chaired the Promotion and Market Development Committee of the International Coffee Organization from 2012 to 2015; and served as president of Fondazione Altagamma from 2013 to 2019, over which period the foundation was institutionally accredited as an ambassador of the Italian lifestyle around the world. Since 2013 he has served on the Board of Directors of the Bank of Italy, and since 2015 on the Advisory Board for Internal Auditing. Since 2019 he has been a member of the Community of Chairpersons of the World Economic Forum. Since 2020 he has chaired the Regenerative Society Foundation together with Jeffrey D. Sachs.
In 1995 Academic Press published his book Espresso Coffee: The Chemistry of Quality, now in its second edition. He also wrote Il sogno del caffè, published by Codice Edizioni in 2015, and Italia Felix, published by Piemme in 2018.

Andrea Illy has a degree in chemistry from the University of Trieste, an Executive Master’s Degree from SDA-Bocconi di Milano and graduated from the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School. He studied Total Quality Management in Japan, Innovation at MIT in Boston, Exponential Technologies at Singularity University, and Complexity Science at the University of Oxford.
In 2018 he was appointed Cavaliere del Lavoro (Knight of the Order of Merit for Labor) by the President of the Italian Republic.

He was born in Trieste in 1964, and is married with three daughters.